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Voice of the Customer Insights

Useful, actionable customer intelligence comes from voice of the customer insights, or VOC.

What is voice of the customer?

Voice of the customer (VOC) refers to systematic information on the experience your current customers have throughout their journey. Voice of the customer insights can be used to surface potential issues, set priorities for addressing areas of improvement, and track progress against current goals. VOC data should influence all parts of the organization. For instance, product development might use VOC to determine product enhancements; customer service might use it to measure the success of their strategies; marketing might use it to better understand what message resonates best with their audiences.

Three common VOC challenges

Collecting, storing, and accessing customer data is a major VOC roadblock. According to Forrester's Brendan Witcher, the average company has more than 30 different places where they store customer data! Storing information in a central hub like a CRM system can help address this challenge.

The average company stores customer data in more than 30 different places.

Another common challenge is relying only on market research surveys. VOC is about current customers, not the market as a whole. Many companies confound the two, assuming that research about the broader non-customer market will apply to their existing customers, or vice versa. In addition, relying solely on surveys only shows one part of the picture, and is a lagging indicator because results come in weeks or months after the purchase or experience occurred. Surveys and focus groups are useful tools, but they do not provide the necessary depth of information on the customer experience. VOC is by definition a panoramic view of the customer, and must take into account multiple data sources covering the customer journey end to end.

The third common VOC hang-up is the data itself. Data accuracy and quality, also referred to as data hygiene, is of the utmost importance. After all, what good is a comprehensive and panoramic view of your customers if you can't trust what you see?

Best sources of VOC data

A truly complete picture of the customer experience must be derived from multiple data sources. Each have their strengths and their pitfalls, but when combined they ensure companies can hear the customer's voice loud and clear.

  • Internal operational metrics: Records of transactions and exceptions; essentially what the company did or did not do for customers.
  • Internal quality metrics: These can include inspection data on any defective products, call monitoring data, and service access data.
  • Customer complaints and questions: How the customers are perceiving your products, your service experiences, etc., in their own words. This is an area where high-quality customer case data and accurate reporting are critical.
  • Customer surveys: Useful surveys could ask customers about their relationship with the brand, about their opinions about using products or interacting with self-service or staff, or about their experiences with your website or mobile app.
  • Social listening: Even though social interactions may only include a small segment of your customer population, it's a vocal segment! Influencers and power users can be valuable sources of information within social channels.
  • Reviews and other unstructured data: Once distilled into useful insights, unstructured customer feedback can prove hugely valuable.
  • Employee input: Team members on the front lines can identify issues with processes and can more accurately assess the impact and inefficiencies caused by problems. 

Integrating all these sources of customer intelligence make it much easier for decision-makers to understand the reality of their situation and act accordingly. 

Successfully listening to the customer's voice

In order to have an accurate and useful VOC, companies need a CRM that can connect all customer interactions into a single, unified, and panoramic view, no matter where or when those interactions take place. They also need customer engagement software that is able to generate actionable reports across all their customer data, delivering business and customer intelligence that impacts decision making. And as previously stated, all this data means nothing if it's not accurate. To maintain data quality for customer case information, many companies rely on a self-teaching QA tool that can identify and fix data quality issues for the entire database.

A useful VOC comes from a CRM that can connect all customer interactions into a single, unified, and panoramic view.

In addition to the technology considerations, any VOC program would be incomplete without buy-in from the C-suite. Company executives and the finance team need to accept the validity of VOC findings and recognize the financial necessity of solving issues. Customer issues have a huge impact on revenue -- a well-equipped VOC program with the full backing of the C-suite is the best way to identify and remedy critical customer issues.

 

Source: "Customer Experience 3.0" by John A. Goodman

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